The promise of profit and golden handshakes has lured business people overseas for decades. The promise of an untapped market with opportunities around every street corner has been the boardroom fantasy of business people for decades more.

Corporate travel can be the best way for your burgeoning business to make a dent. But where will the road-warriors be booking their tickets next?

We look at the emerging markets for corporate travel, and how travel managers and agents can arm their employees and clients with the tools to succeed.


1. Business Travel in India

India remains the world’s fastest growing economy. Legal challenges and commercial disputes pepper the business landscape, but for western companies with a truly global strategy, it presents significant opportunity. Likewise, Indian businesses are looking west for profitable partnerships.

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) reported in 2014 that India had overtaken Canada to become the 10th largest business travel market in the world.

In 2014, India had a reported $26 billion in business travel spending. The GBTA predicts that India will be a top-5 market in business travel spending in the next 15 years.

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Welf Ebeling, GBTA’s Vice President of operations in Asia Pacific, cited pro-business reforms and accelerated infrastructure investment as key drivers of India’s recent growth.

“Even incremental success in these efforts should eventually spark greater economic and business travel growth,” he said.

In 2015, GBTA Executive Director and COO, Michael McCormick, echoed these predictions. “Another market to watch is India, which is statistically where China was 15 years ago,” he said.



2. Corporate Travel in China

To call China an “emerging” market for business travel would be like saying Serena Williams has a promising career in tennis. However, China’s business travel spending is expected to increase by 61 per cent over the next 5 years.

According to the GBTA report, China’s business travel spending in 2014 was second only to the United States’, at $261.5 billion.

In 2015, China surpassed the United States as the biggest business travel market in the world.

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For western travellers visiting China, successfully navigating the etiquette battlefield remains one of the top concerns.


Other Markets to Watch

India and China may sound like no-brainers in discussion of emerging corporate travel markets. But beyond the BRIC group (Brazil, Russia, India and China), who all share a similar stage of emerging economic development, there are less obvious business travel markets to watch.

3. Business Travel to Indonesia

For Australian businesses, Indonesia doesn’t only present convenience but plentiful economic opportunity.

Indonesia is the largest economy in South East Asia, and boasts emerging markets in mining, manufacturing, infrastructure, automotive and consumer goods. 

According to Asialink Business, Australian businesses in consumer markets like design and product development, retail and online marketing and consumer finance have plentiful opportunity in Indonesia’s emerging international marketplace.

Services industries like education, healthcare and tourism are also touted as high-growth potential areas for Australian businesses.


Issues with Emerging Business Travel Markets 

While opportunities abound in these burgeoning business markets, travel managers must keep the safety of their employees firmly at front-of-mind.

The fresh-faced players in the international corporate travel landscape don’t always enjoy the time-tested security and infrastructure of the traditional powerhouses. It’s unlikely many business travellers will find themselves on a harrowing Somali assignment, but travel managers must exercise duty of care over their jet-setting employees.

A travel management platform that features risk management tools, like up-to-date health and safety alerts, travel tracking, location reporting and passport and visa control is essential.

For more information on the trends that are redefining business travel, download your free eGuide, '5 Corporate Travel Trends to Watch in 2017' below:

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